Community joins adult guardianship discussion

Community members are bringing their backgrounds and expertise to the conversation surrounding an expanded adult guardianship program in Porter County.

Porter County Aging and Community Services’ board of directors and staff members are working with these interested individuals as well as Amber Poff, executive director and staff attorney at LaPorte-based Indiana Guardianship Services.

IGS is already serving a limited number of individuals in Porter County who are in need of a guardian, but many more are on a waiting list, said Bruce Lindner, PCACS executive director.

“It all started with a casual conversation with Amber. The reason for the meeting with our community members was to get a handle on what our organization can do and receive some insights from the community,” he said. “It helps to receive ideas from those who have worked in the field.”

Poff had recently detailed what her agency is all about and how it serves the community to the PCACS board. The program allows the agency to serve as a guardian for adults who have been adjudicated incapacitated and have no other viable alternative for a guardian. The agency utilizes trained professionals as well as volunteers to advocate for at-risk adults.

Attorney Christopher M. Ripley of Blachly, Tabor, Bozik & Hartman, who does work in the elder law arena, Marti Pizzini, who is retired and had worked in the home health care industry, and Joe Frankus, who had served an Illinois legal aid organization as an elder law attorney, all joined the discussion.

“Guardianship can be for those without anyone or who are alienated from their families,” Pizzini said. “If a family has always been dysfunctional, getting older doesn’t make it any better.”

“We can think about educating with forms on the (PCACS) Web site,” Frankus said, which would help with situations where the families are involved. “This is a growing problem with Baby Boomers aging and living longer and having to be taken care of longer.”

Helping collect information in one area on the PCACS Web site and possibly having knowledgeable volunteers on-site periodically could be initial first steps to establishing a larger presence for an adult guardianship program in the county, Lindner said.

“I would like to see PCACS provide services for those who have nothing and nobody,” said PCACS board member Kim Wiseman. “We need to be supporting that aspect for those at the end of their lives with no one to turn to.”

Working with Poff’s organization would help serve those who fall into this area, Lindner said.

“We will continue to discuss this much-needed service and evaluate the best steps to move forward,” he said. “It was extremely useful to gather like-minded individuals who have insight and expertise to offer.

“This is a program that needs more attention. Can we help it along?”   

Community members who have input on this subject should contact Lindner at (219) 465-7144 or bhlindner@portercountyacs.org.

Annual meeting spotlights another year of impact

Porter County Aging and Community Services marked its impact on the community by spotlighting another year of serving residents and welcoming new board members during its annual meeting.

“We saw many of our programs reach even more individuals in the last year,” said Bruce Lindner, PCACS executive director. “We had another successful year of providing services to the elderly, disabled and low-income families in Porter County.”

The agency’s door-to-door demand-response transportation program now has eight buses running to help community members reach their destinations from doctor appointments to everyday errands. In the last year, the buses ran 94 average trips per day, making 23,148 one-way trips and reaching 171,161 passenger miles.

“Our transportation program continues to succeed with our staff’s dedication, attention to detail and genuine caring for those we serve,” Lindner said. “We also have seen a reduction in our no-shows, which helps our program run more efficiently.”

The Energy Assistance Program helped 1,220 clients in the last year assisting with $471,667 in energy expenses. The income-eligible program helps those struggling to pay their energy bills.

“This past season the energy program ran two weeks longer,” Lindner said. “Due to the fact that there were funds left over, those clients who received EAP funds will also be receiving a $210 cooling benefit on their upcoming bills – probably in August or September.”

The ramp building program continued to assist individuals who need access to their homes with the support of funding and a talented team of builders from the UAW/ Ford Community Service team as well as the Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis Club, Thrivent for Lutherans, Task Force Tips and Porter County Habitat for Humanity.

“Since July 1, 2017, we have completed 19 ramps and we have an additional five scheduled for this fall,” Lindner said. “Sometimes, a community member needs a temporary ramp for a few weeks due to a surgery and we have metal ramps that serve just that purpose, beyond construction of a more permanent wooden ramp.”

Another program that also has seen growth is the Section 8 Housing Program, which assisted 339 clients. It allows low-income families to acquire adequate housing.

“Our Section 8 Housing Director Valerie Martinez has worked with the community for five years in this role taking it from 230 to 339 clients over the years,” Lindner said. “She is extremely sharp at helping clients find additional resources and cultivating relationships with landlords and clients.”

PCACS also administers the United Way Emergency Assistance Grant for those needing help with such emergencies as car repairs or furnace fixes. In the last year, 60 clients were helped with $31,425 in emergency funds.

“These are usually new clients every year who just need help getting back on their feet,” said PCACS Deputy Director Judy Peracki.

The Medicare programs serve seniors who need help with Medicare and prescription drug payments. The Medicare Savings Program had 35 applications submitted and the Medicare Part D Extra Help had 12 applications with $4,624.89 in total funding received.

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, housed in PCACS offices, saw more than 200 clients during the open enrollment period from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Three trained counselors are available to offer no-cost and unbiased counseling on Medicare questions and decisions.

The agency also introduced new board members Tom Crnarich and Rhiannon Martin who fill roles left open by a move and the passing of long-time board member and community activist Ed Gottschling. Martin is the family service advisor at Graceland Cemetery in Valparaiso and Crnarich is the president of Rebuilding Together Portage.

“We are honored that Tom and Rhiannon are serving on our board and look forward to another year of making a difference here in Porter County,” Lindner said.

Office Space available: 2,500 square feet, cubicles, private bathroom, kitchen area, small offices, large space, multiple points of access for public and employees and 11 parking spaces. Call 219-464-9736 if interested.

support us while shopping!

PCACS is registered as a charitable organization at smile.amazon.com. 
When you shop through this Web site, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible purchases to PCACS. 

AmazonSmile is a Web site, operated by Amazon, that lets you enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features that you find on Amazon.com.

On your first visit, you will be prompted to select a charitable organization to receive the donations. Then AmazonSmile will remember your selection and future eligible purchases you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation to PCACS. 

In order for the purchases to count, you must shop through the Smile Web site each time vs. the regular Amazon Web site.

Nipsco TV with child.JPG

Thank you Nipsco!

We are so appreciative of the support that we received from NIPSCO. The company has sponsored our new TV, which will be enjoyed by our clients and utilized by our staff for training.

chairlift.jpg

Chair lift available

We have received a like-new Acorn chair lift as a donation from a community member!
Do you know someone who could use this?
It would need to be picked up and installed by the recipient's family or friends.
We would be happy to accept a donation for the stair lift if the recipient wishes to do so.
It is not too heavy and will fit easily in the back of a pick-up truck.
Contact Bruce Lindner at 219-464-9736 or email bhlindner@portercountyacs.org for questions or if interested.

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